I Heart SCV
Big Names
March, 2012 - Issue #89
Santa Clarita hosts plenty of big names. This is particularly true in the vampire arena. Bits of Clarita were filmed for scenes in the "Twilight" saga and HBO's "True Blood"... "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (the TV series) if you want to go way back. Taylor Lautner of "Twilight," Michael Trevino of "The Vampire Diaries" and Kristy Swanson of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (the movie) have lived or now live in the SCV. We're a veritable bloodbath of vampirism. We have other celebrities, too. The Performing Arts Center is featuring Dionne Warwick and Anthony Bourdain in 2012, and we'll doubtless have Olympians this summer along with plenty of professional athletes to cheer for.

With all of these names to follow, we sometimes lose sight of local big names - the people who may matter to Claritans alone, but matter a lot. Let's catch up with three iconic ones: McKeon, Smyth and Newhall.

Job Perk?
A lot of people would like to save a full point on their mortgage loans. Unfortunately, you're not likely to get this special treatment. Some SCV local did, however. In a story covered by The Wall Street Journal, TV news networks and local media, Congressman Buck McKeon was discovered as the recipient of a "VIP Loan" from Countrywide Financial. According to an investigation led by Darrell Issa, records show McKeon was set up to get a very favorable interest rate, avoid junk fees and receive approval without documentation. These perks applied to a $315,000 loan for a home in Stevenson Ranch that he purchased in 1998.

It's actually not quite as sweet a deal as you might think - savings of thousands of dollars, yes, but a free house, no. McKeon said he didn't know he had been treated more favorably than the average loan applicant, promising that he would have rejected the special treatment if he had known.

"The Smyth LEGACY,
of course, lives on."

Stalwart Smyth
Clyde Smyth, one of Santa Clarita's most highly-esteemed residents, passed away after suffering a stroke this January. Santa Clarita is still, in many ways, a very young city, and the Smyths have been one of her securest anchors. Clyde and his family moved to Santa Clarita over four decades ago. Smyth, an army veteran, was a principal and served as superintendent of W.S. Hart Union High School District for 18 years. City Council member Marsha McLean, like many others, got to know Clyde Smyth while her children were attending school and growing up with Smyth's sons. "He was wonderful," she said at a recent meeting, citing a commitment not just to education but to public service. When he served on the Santa Clarita City Council in the '90s, Smyth was involved in transportation issues, worked to establish Central Park and was firmly committed to ensuring government transparency.

The Smyth legacy, of course, lives on. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Sue, and two children, including Santa Clarita's own California State Assemblyman, Cameron Smyth, as well as two treasured daughters in law, five grandchildren, and innumerable Claritans he touched through education, government and service.

Redev Undo
Newhall is the most quintessential of Claritan names. Henry Newhall once owned most of Santa Clarita and the family name marks the hospital, roads, Newhall Land and the southern region of the valley. Whether because of its historic cachet - or just the fact that they happen to live there - a lot of people with a lot of influence have been working hard to see downtown Newhall thrive. A redevelopment agency has been critical in these efforts, but it and other redevelopment agencies statewide have been abolished in a ruling by the California Supreme Court. This turned off the spigot of local tax revenue that was funding projects to restore architecture, improve roads and attract businesses. (Those really nice wooden benches that people sit and drink 40s on? Thank redevelopment.)

The City of Santa Clarita has taken on the $93M in debt and obligations accrued by the redevelopment efforts. City officials aren't worried about paying these obligations - the money's been earmarked - but about the fate of downtown now that redevelopment momentum is all but lost. Those who heart SCV will have to find new ways to make Newhall, the place, live up to Newhall, the name.

This column is intended as satire and a (sometimes successful) attempt at humor. Suggestions, catty comments and veiled threats intended for the author can be e-mailed to
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